The employees of MANN+HUMMEL in the Czech Republic recently voted on what essential we should send to our colleagues in Germany. We foster a spirit of cooperation at our factory and felt everyone should have a say in the decision. After all, the object chosen will influence how visitors to the anniversary exhibition at the Technology Centre in Ludwigsburg regard our location. We wanted something that reflects our company values of community, tradition, and outstanding workmanship. We all voted to send a locally-produced wooden nativity scene. The scene is set in the traditional stable with the baby Jesus in a crib surrounded by Mary, Joseph, and a host of farm animals. The star that guided the Three Wise Men can be found on the stable roof, which is coated in a layer of moss to represent thatch.
The nativity scene is obviously associated with Christmas celebrations so I understand that you may wonder why we have chosen this essential to go into the time capsule to celebrate MANN+HUMMEL’s 75th Anniversary. The MANN+HUMMEL factory in the Czech Republic is located in Nová Ves which is part of the Třebíč District. The main town, Třebíč, is famous for hand-carved, hand-painted nativity scenes so we think our essential represents our location perfectly.
Třebíč lies in the south of the country, just off the main motorway between the capital, Prague, and the second largest city, Brno. The surrounding area is very mountainous and heavily wooded. Because of the abundance of trees, the town soon became known for its hand-crafted wooden furniture and other articles. Around 1760, the first nativity scene was carved and from then on their popularity grew. Today, nativity scenes are still made locally and painted by hand. They range from the simple to the intricate; some of the larger pieces have moving parts and even water features. Planning and production starts in the summer in order to meet the high demand at Christmas markets throughout the Czeck Republic and beyond.
Třebíč is not only famous for production of the nativity scenes; it was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2003. One of the listed monuments, St. Procopius´ Basilica, is an impressive building with Gothic and Romanesque influences. In the past, it was a monastery, a military stronghold, and aristocratic palace. Nowadays it is home to the Highlands Museum which has an extensive collection of nativity scenes which can be viewed all year round. Next to the Basilica is the town’s old Jewish Quarter, also part of the UNESCO listing, which is one of the largest and best preserved ghettos in Europe. Many in the Jewish community were traditional leather craftsmen and contributed to Třebíč’s reputation for hand-made goods.
Producing nativity scenes is almost a year-round business, and Christmas time all the hard work pays off. The windows of Třebíč’s shops and houses are decorated with beautiful nativity scenes and the atmosphere is magical. We hope that some of that magic rubs off during the 75th Anniversary celebrations when our nativity scene arrives in Germany.